How to test Vegetable Seeds

How to test Vegetable Seeds

So last year, after I had sown my seeds in my garden, I had hundreds left over. Those little seed packets have more than enough for my tiny little garden. I shared some of the lettuce seeds with my mother in law, and the rest I stored in my fridge. Following directions from several different websites, I left the seeds in the envelopes, placed them all in a plastic air tight container with some paper towel to absorb any moisture, and kept them in the back of my fridge. I thought I followed the simple directions, but how would I know my seeds were ok?

saving vegetable seeds
All wrapped up in paper towel, ready to be tucked away in the back of the fridge until next year

On the weekend, I realized that I should be planting some of my seeds soon, but I still didn’t know if they were good. I took to the internet, and after a simple search, I found a Martha Stewart way old testing old seeds. It seemed simple, but it left me with a few questions. I then found this one, with loads of pictures and time frames to work with. Much better! Here is what I did this past Saturday morning:

testing seeds
Place 10 seeds (yes exactly 10!) on a small piece of paper towel, and dampen it with a little water.
testing seeds
Fold the paper towel in half, making sure that damp paper towel touches the seeds on all sides
testing seeds
Place the seeds into a small resealable bag, and label the seed type and the date.

You need to count out exactly 10 seeds, so that you can figure out the percentage of viability. If 7 seeds sprout, then the seeds are 70% viable and are good to use. If less than that sprout, give them another day or so, or know you need to plant more seeds in each spot.

Once the seeds are in their baggies, they need to stay in a warm dark place. I placed my bags in a glass container, and put them at the back of a cupboard that doesn’t get opened that often. Check on them after a couple of days to see if anything is growing, and if the paper towel needs to be dampened again.

Here is what’s happening with mine so far:

testing seeds
Day 5: All 10 of my turnip seeds sprouted
testing seeds
Day 5: All 10 of my lettuce seeds sprouted too
testing seeds
Day 5: 7 of the 10 green onion seeds sprouted, which is still pretty good

I also have my bush beans (which are the big ones, shown in the first set of pictures) and carrot seeds. The bush beans have shown no sign of sprouting yet, so I will wait a little longer. The carrot seeds had just started sprouting, so in another day or so they should be good too.

I’m so glad I kept the seeds, and can use them again this year. It isn’t a huge expense saved, but every dollar counts, and I would much rather use up these seeds, than purchase more. I will save them again, and hopefully they will still be good next year too!

Hopefully I will get a chance this weekend to get out and till the garden and start some planting! Are you planning a vegetable garden this year?

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